You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2012.
If you’ve partaken in a discussion on the internet, you’ve seen at least one of these. In fact, you’ve probably seen them all at some point or another. These are comments that trolls use to invade discussions and try to get the thread off-topic. I’ve seen it in feminist spaces, in Health at Every Size Spaces, in anti-racist spaces — pretty much anywhere in which people are attempting to discuss issues we find with society, and how to handle them. They’re aggravating. They’re silencing. They’re not useful.
Just remember: don’t feed the trolls. They’ll build new bridges elsewhere.
While I’ve blogged my reading lists pretty extensively, I haven’t listed all of the things I’ve loved this year. So here’s a rundown of great music, websites, and tech stuff I discovered. Note that not all of it was brand new this year, but it was new to me.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seasons 2-5 and season 7
Jon and I watched through all of Buffy this year; neither of us had seen it. Well, I watched through almost all of Buffy. Jon started it first, but knew I was going to absolutely hate season 1. I joined partway through season 2 and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Though I nearly quit during the television tragedy that was season 6, I’m glad I stuck through until the end.
I liked this right off the bat, even more than I did Buffy. While the final season definitley had its hiccups, the final episode made me cry, and it’s rare for television to do that.
This season was intense. I don’t want to say too much, for fear of giving spoilers away. But wow, what a well-crafted season. This had some of my favorite episodes of the series, including one that made me cry (apparently, television made me tear up this year). While the season finale was a little lackluster compared to other finales on this show, I can’t wait for next season.
Best.show.on.television. Ever. Brilliant structure and pacing, not just at the episode level, not just at the season level, but across the entire series. I’m glad the world didn’t end on December 21st, because I would have been bummed if the apocalypse had happened and I didn’t get to see how the series wrapped up.
Jon and I just discovered this show on Netflix. It clearly didn’t do that well on broadcast, but we think it’s hilarious.
The Master (2012)
I live under a rock. I didn’t know this film was coming out. But one day, I had the afternoon off from work and nothing to do. I had some free passes to a movie theater. The Master was starting in 20 minutes, and I figured anything with Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman had to be good. But that’s all I knew — the leading actors and the starting time. I went into this film completely unprepared. I left feeling unsettled, but in a good way. Definitely a film worth seeing.
Cabin in the Woods (2011)
I still get giddy when I think about this film. I love horror movies. I love meta anything. This was the best of both worlds.
Keith Montesano talks to poets about their experience writing, revising, submitting, and publishing their first collections. I learn something new with every one.
It’s nice to know I’m not the only one whose dogs do crazy things.
Transcendental Youth by the Mountain Goats (2012).
Transcendental Youth is full of songs about people who madly, stupidly, blessedly won’t stop surviving, no matter who gives up on them.
I can report that it is a very good album and has many more instruments on it than his early cassette tapes, including Peter Hughes on bass, Jon Wurster on drums, and, for the first time, a full horn section. And all of this makes a very joyous noise. (John Hodgman)
I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers (2009).
Jon discovered this during his music-discovery project, and knew I would love it. He knows my taste well. The themes in this album are the ones I often cover in my poems: travel, searching, and love. This is a truly ambitious piece of work.
CamScanner app (available for Android and iPhone).
I rarely pay for apps at full price; I usually wait until Google Play has a sale. But I shelled out $5 for the full version of CamScanner, and four months later, I’ve already gotten my money’s worth. Cheaper than a scanner, way more cost-effective than sending a fax from a public machine, and it works great. Highly recommended.
Inspired by the “2012 in Photos” post over at The New Me, I decided to do a summary of 2012 using photos. I more or less followed Chrissy’s setup, using photos I’d taken with my good camera, though made an exception for two group shots other people took that I really wanted to share.
January: The year started off on a sad note, but it had wonderful moments as well. I attended America’s Classic Championship, which is one of my favorite competitions. The competition is well-run, the routines are amazing, and I get to spend time partying with my favorite dance friends. A great way to spend a winter weekend.
February: Not the most eventful month of my year, but Jon did get a nice bonus at work. We used the extra cash to treat ourselves to brunch at Perla’s. And got oysters on the half shell for an appetizer, and then again for dessert. We also didn’t eat the rest of the day.
April: I photographed surprisingly little in April, even though a lot happened. There was my poker birthday party as well as a big dance competition in Austin. But here is a photo of my fellow triviagoers one early April night. This was the first night we took Max to trivia with us. It was also the last.
May: Jon gave me a weekend pass to Poetry at Round Top for my birthday, so I spent a glorious weekend in early May out at the festival grounds. I got to listen to some amazing poets, and had a great time connecting with writers from all over, including meeting a poet who had been a professor at Kenyon College when I was a student. The above photo is from the grotto in the chapel. A lovely sight after the sun went down.
June: First time on a Texas beach! I went down to Galveston early, before it got hot, enjoyed the Gulf, and then ate a plate of raw oysters for lunch. I’m looking forward to more beach time this coming summer.
July: 2012 marked my fourth year in Austin. Despite that, I had yet to visit Foundation Graffiti, which is close to my house, and also free. One afternoon, I finally took the time to check out the amazing artwork on display
August: Only Austin is weird enough to have a hot sauce festival in August. Every year, I swear I don’t want to go, because it’s so hot and uncomfortable. But I let Jon drag me down, and I end up having a fantastic time. The location change to Fiesta Gardens definitely helped make this year a success.
September: September was a great month. I went to an excellent dance competition, I embarked on The Artist’s Way, and went on a photo walk at Pedernales Falls with my friend Savanni. I had the chance to take some great photos, and also wrote one of my best haiku ever.
October: October marked my second year doing October Unprocessed. This year, I became obsessed with Greek yogurt and added a few new slow cooker meals to my regular rotation. Plus, I enjoyed these delicious breakfast tacos, courtesy of Jon.
November: I hosted my friend Phoebe’s bridal shower at 1886 Cafe and Bakery. We had delicious food, played a low-key game, and I happen to think that this candid photo of the bride turned out beautifully.
December: This month has been a total blur. I’ve been working tons of overtime on a big project deadline. Plus, there’s the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Plus, I finished The Artist’s Way and I’m doing the Southeast Review 30-day Writer’s Regimen. (If you’re wondering when I sleep, I’m not entirely sure myself.) But despite all the running around, there are moments that remind you to slow down. Earlier this week, we were running around getting ready for the day. It was warm, so the back door was open for the dogs. Jon noticed the light; the entire yard was cast in pink. I immediately grabbed my camera. And Simon, the dog who never stops moving, actually posed for a good picture. Yes, even the most hyper dog can stop moving once in a while. Or I get the proper shutter speed to catch him at just the right millisecond.
Both of these articles are slightly old, but are new to me. Jon passed them along to me knowing I’d want to use them for this portion of my blog, so here you go!
First up, “6 Insane Stereotypes that movies can’t seem to get over.” This article is a great dissection of a whole host of problems in the film industry that intersect with feminism: racism (“Everyone in Africa is Uncivilized or a Warlord,” “White People are Better at Being Asian Than Real Asians,” “In Fantasy Movies, Everyone Has to Be White”), sexism (“Women Can Only Talk About Men”), homophobia (“Non-Heterosexual Characters Either Die or Are Murderers”), and ableism (“Anything (Including Death) is Better Than Being Disabled”). Each heading also offers a dissection of why this problem exists. Definitely a worthwhile read. Also, you’ve now fallen down the Cracked.com rabbit hole. Have fun.
Next up is an article that was linked in the Cracked.com piece, entitled “Why film schools teach screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel test.” The title is, sadly, pretty self-explanatory. When Jennifer Kesler was in film school, she was taught not to pass the Bechdel test, and this is still a problem today (and unfortunately, I can’t say I’m surprised).
Kesler describes her experience as such:
I had to understand that the audience only wanted white, straight, male leads. I was assured that as long as I made the white, straight men in my scripts prominent, I could still offer groundbreaking characters of other descriptions (fascinating, significant women, men of color, etc.) – as long as they didn’t distract the audience from the white men they really paid their money to see.
My scripts had multiple women with names. Talking to each other. About something other than men. That, they explained nervously, was not okay. I asked why. Well, it would be more accurate to say I politely demanded a thorough, logical explanation that made sense for a change (I’d found the “audience won’t watch women!” argument pretty questionable, with its ever-shifting reasons and parameters).
At first I got several tentative murmurings about how it distracted from the flow or point of the story. I went through this with more than one professor, more than one industry professional. Finally, I got one blessedly telling explanation from an industry pro: “The audience doesn’t want to listen to a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”
According to Hollywood, if two women came on screen and started talking, the target male audience’s brain would glaze over and assume the women were talking about nail polish or shoes or something that didn’t pertain to the story. Only if they heard the name of a man in the story would they tune back in. By having women talk to each other about something other than men, I was “losing the audience.”
Kesler ended up leaving film, deciding to “fight the system from without,” and I don’t blame her. As admirable as it can be to fight something from within, sometimes, there’s no point in staying in an institution, industry, or situation that’s dragging you down and making you miserable.
Kesler believes the men of her generation are better than Hollywood thinks they are. I have to agree. Although I see sexism on a daily basis, I also have a community in which men aren’t the juvenile, sexist zombies Hollywood claims are their target audience. The film industry can do better, and the sooner they realize that, the better.
This weekend, “A Soul for an Hour” was published in the San Antonio Express-News, appearing both in print and online. This is the first of my twenty-six abecedarian sonnets to be published, and I’m happy to have the series debut in a Texas publication. Thanks to poetry editor Jim LaVilla-Havelin for publishing my work.
(The online formatting turned out a little wonky, but just imagine that none of the lines wrap around. And if you can get a print version, check out that one, because the lines ended up perfect.)
Though this isn’t mentioned in publication, this poem is dedicated to my friend Phoebe. (I’ll be sure to add the dedication when this is included in my next book.)
So much has kept me busy lately, so I’m getting to this list much later than I prefer. But here’s an update on what I read last month. You’ll notice that I’ve let go of my plan of one novel, one nonfiction work, 4 poetry collections, one literary journal, and one craft book. The length of time it takes me to read one of George R.R. Martin’s novels, plus the fact that certain books (or their library due dates) were calling to me means I’m pretty much done with that plan until I’ve gotten through A Feast for Crows (currently reading) and A Dance With Dragons.
Kim Addonizio, What Is This Thing Called Love: I picked this up at the end of September, and it was the only poetry book I read last month. But what a collection it was. The poems range from heartbreak to grief to parenthood, and yet all speak to each other despite the variations of subject matter, showing all the forms that love can take, and how it can affect our lives.
And then, of course, there are brilliant lines like this:
merciless, the way it travels in
and keeps emitting light. Beside the stove
we ate an orange. And there were purple flowers
on the table. And we still had hours.
This is the kind of poetry collection I aspire to write: one in which the collection has a theme, but has room to move and explore.
William J. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook: I recently submitted some haiku and haiga for the Dos Gatos Press Anthology of Haiku/Senryu and Higa (submissions stay open until January 15th, by the way). In the guidelines page, editors Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell were kind enough to list some recommended resources for learning more about haiku. I decided to read The Haiku Handbook as I was preparing my submission, and wow, am I glad! This book greatly enhanced my understanding of haiku and how it works. I ended up drastically changing my submission, cutting pieces that no longer worked in favor of new haiku I wrote that better reflected what I learned from this book. Of the original 8 haiku I had been preparing to send in, I only kept one. But I feel like I really understand haiku now, and I’m sending more engaging poems into the world. That’s a great feeling.
George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords (finished): Started in October, it took me well into November to get through this 1,100+-page literary behemoth. When last I mentioned it, I talked about how this novel felt heavier than the other three, how it seemed to drag more in the middle. I will say, though, that while it probably could have used a bit of tightening, the ending to this book is incredible. Totally worth the long road it took to get there. I closed the book anxious for more.
Gary L. McDowell and F. Daniel Rzicznek, eds., The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: I noticed recently that I hadn’t written many prose poems lately, probably not since July. While this isn’t a bad thing per se, it’s true that I love reading them and writing them. There are two prose poems in my chapbook, and a handful of them in the current draft of my collection so far. I’d had this book in my “To Read” stack for a while, and decided now was the time, in order to get some inspiration and make prose poems a regular part of my writing again. This collection of essays and poems really did the trick, too. Since reading it, I’ve done a few prose poems a week. I was also surprised how quickly I read this. But it’s so good, you will devour it.
December so far has been taken up by A Feast for Crows. If I finish this book before the new year, I’ll probably focus on poetry, but we’ll see. I hope during the busy holiday season, you find time for your own pleasure reading.
I haven’t done a Picture Perfect Challenge in a while (or done much in the way of blogging, for that matter). Work, writing, and kung fu have all left me quite busy. However, some of my activities are winding down for the year, and I’ve found myself with extra time on my hands. So yesterday evening I took the time to take some photos to fit the theme.
If you’re wondering why there are ornaments but no Christmas tree…I had the realization over Thanksgiving that Simon is not currently a tree-friendly dog. I knew that if I put one up, I’d come home from work and find every porcelain and blown-glass memory smashed to bits on the floor.
But I still wanted a few ornaments up. Then Jon had the idea of running a few nails at an angle down one of the walls. Once they were in, I selected some of my favorites and put them up. I couldn’t get every single piece I wanted, but I have a good representation of ornaments that make me happy, and I don’t need to worry about them being destroyed.
New Year’s Resolution: get some professional obedience training for this pup.
(And yes, he does like to snuggle up to Jon like that.)
The first meeting of Achieve Your Dreams, my yearlong workshop series, launches in just 18 days! I’m so excited to help writers of all stripes work on setting goals, managing expectations, and accomplishing their dreams.
Whether you’re trying to get your first piece published, revise that novel, or are working on taking the first step to get thoughts down on the page, this is the workshop for you. And best of all, you don’t have to be in Austin to get the benefit. Monthly workshop meetings are held via Google+ hangout, and weekly check-ins are done via email or video chat (student’s preference). As long as you have a computer, an internet connection, and webcam, you can take this class.
I still have some spots available, so if you’re interested, check out the Workshops and Coaching page for full details and pricing.